The Story of Elytra

People often ask, “What is Elytra?”

“The day I decided to start this company I searched for a name that inspired and drew her deeply to design and the creative process. Art and science were always intimately connected in my view of the world. Having spent many years as a biologist, studying and admiring the intricacies of nature and the always outrageous and unanticipated designs born out of the process of evolution, I discovered that the expression of art through humans comes from the same force and source that drives nature to create.

The awesome experience of peering through a microscope into the universe of a single cell or at the intricate sculpturing of the outer wing of a beetle, has left an impression so deep that it pervades a thirst to create beauty, no matter what the medium. And so the inspiration for the name and philosophy of this web design company arose from the “Elytra”, the outer wings of the beetle, which are masterfully sculpted, explosive with iridescence and resplendent with subtle magnificence!”

Thus sprach Elytra!

I wrote this in 2002, when I first ventured out on my own as a young web designer and started this studio. What I wrote then still holds true today. I wanted to capture the heart of what I wanted this web studio to be and to represent. I wanted to bring on this journey a love for nature, biology, art and technology. I’m a biologist by training, so nature in all of it’s magnificence, wonder, complexity and mystery were coming along for the ride.

The elytra are the outer wings of a beetle. If you’re not used to looking closely at small creatures like beetles (and other insects) you may miss the spectacular designs of these wings. Their purpose is to protect. The underwings are for flying. I chose the name Elytra for two reasons. I love the name, and the flow of the word. And secondly because the elytra (pleural – there are always 2 wings) represent a timeless and complex process of design born out of the the intelligence of evolution.

I stumbled upon this TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg. It is called The Hidden Beauty of Pollination. It has nothing to do with web design. It also has nothing to do with the wings of a beetle, the elytra. But in some amazing and remarkable way, his talk and time lapsed video is close to the heart and purpose of all things design. It speaks to the heart of what I feel compels the art and science of successful web design. It speaks to why I was compelled to name this little web design studio Elytra Design. It is so compelling, I couldn’t resist sharing. Enjoy!